How to Make Shoes Smaller (Top Tips and Guides Revealed)

If you’ve ever bought a pair of shoes only to find out they don’t fit properly, you know the pain of dealing with ill-fitting footwear. While buying the right size is always the ideal solution, sometimes you might find yourself stuck with shoes that are just a little too big. The good news is, you don’t have to suffer through blisters and discomfort. There are several DIY methods you can use to make your shoes smaller and get the perfect fit. As a specialist of a shoe expert team from a multinational company, let me give you advice on how to make shoes smaller. I will also elaborate more with tips and tricks from footwear professionals to help you achieve a snug and comfortable fit. Let’s get started!

Introduction: Why You Might Need to Make Your Shoes Smaller

Proper shoe fit is crucial for maintaining foot health and preventing discomfort or pain. As an experienced in this field, let me tell you that shoes that are too large can cause a lot of problems for your feet. The extra space in the shoe can allow your foot to slide inside, causing blisters, calluses, and other foot problems. According to Dr. Martin Sloan from Lake Pointe Foot & Ankle, the extra room can affect your balance, making walking and running more difficult. If you’re an athlete, wearing shoes that are too big also can affect your performance and increase your risk of injury.

On the other hand, if you’ve lost weight or your feet have changed shape over time, your shoes may have become too big, and you might need to adjust their size to maintain a comfortable and secure fit. Whatever your reason, let me share various methods you can use to make your shoes smaller and get the fit you need for optimal shoe comfort and performance in this article.

Shoes Too Big Hack

how to make shoes smaller

If you find yourself in a situation where you have purchased shoes that are too big, don’t despair. There are several hacks that you can use to make them fit better. Based on my professional experience for more than a decade, here are some of the most effective tricks you can try:

  • Use insoles or padding: This is a simple and effective method to fill up the extra space inside your shoes. You can use ready-made inserts or make your own by cutting foam or felt to size and inserting them into the toe box or under the heel.
  • Use balls of footpads: You can use balls of footpads to comfort your feet, especially if you often walk or run. In fact, researchers from Shanghai University of Sports studied shoe cushioning effects and found that it gives great impacts on foot loading and comfort perception during typical basketball maneuvers. The balls of footpads are as good as insoles and considerably more comfy to use. Also, they are widely accessible and less priced.
  • Adjust the laces: If your shoes have laces, you can adjust them to tighten the shoe around your foot, which can help reduce slipping and sliding. A study from Journal of Sports Sciences showed that a firm foot-to-shoe coupling with higher lacing leads to a more effective use of running shoe features and is likely to reduce the risk of lower limb injury.
  • Use elastic bands: Elastic bands are another creative hack! You can use elastic bands to create a tighter fit around the shoes. If the shoe is too wide, you can pull it closer to your feet by stitching elastic bands to the back. Strong elastic is required to sew elastic to the sides.
  • Shrink shoes with water: You can wear certain types of shoes that are too large for your feet after shrinking them with water. But before you try this technique for too-big shoes, be aware that it could harm your shoes as well, especially if they are made of leather. Let’s learn how to do this hack in the next paragraph.

How to Make Shoes Smaller DIY

how to make shoes smaller

Now, you may wonder how to shrink your too big shoes on your own. If you have a pair of shoes that are too big and you don’t want to spend money on buying new ones, there are several  DIY shoe alterations you can use to make your shoes smaller. Check this out!

1.Use hot water
How to: Soak the shoes in hot water for about 30 minutes. Then, put them in the dryer on high heat. After that, keep the shoes on until they cool down. 
It gives  a better-fitting pair of shoes.Ideal for canvas shoes.Not recommended for leather shoes.Hot water can damage the shoe’s material.
2.Use water spray
How to: Spray the shoes with water.Put on a pair of thick socks on the damp shoes. Blow hot air on the areas of the shoe that feel too big for a few minutesThen, keep the shoes on until they cool down. 
Effective for leather shoes.It molds the shoes to your feet.Not effective for canvas shoes.
3.Use shoe inserts
How to: Simply put the shoe inserts to make your shoes feel smaller. You can purchase ready-made shoe fillers or make your own by cutting foam or felt to size and inserting them into the toe box or under the heel.
It can help fill up the extra space inside your shoes.Ideal for any type of shoes.You need to cut the shoe pads that don’t fit your shoes.
4.Use tape
How to: Use duct tape or any strong tape to create a tighter fit around your shoes. Wrap the tape around the areas of the shoes that feel too big until you achieve the desired fit.
Completely tighten your shoes to your feet.Damage your shoe shape.
5.Use vinegar
How to: Soak a pair of socks in vinegar for 2 hours and wear them with your shoes. Dry entirely in the sunlight, the vinegar will cause the shoes to stretch and conform to your feet. Research from RMKShoes experts mentioned that vinegar has a mildly acidic pH, and its acetic acid shrinks the fibers of leather. 
Natural way that won’t damage your shoes material.It has an acidic smell.

How to Use Insoles to Make Shoes Smaller

how to make shoes smaller

Insole inserts are designed to help adjust the fit of shoes by providing cushioning and extra support. They come in a variety of sizes and thicknesses, allowing you to customize the fit of your shoes. According to my shoe expert and researcher team, here are some tips on how to use insoles to make shoes smaller:

  • Measure your feet: Before purchasing insoles, it is important to measure your feet to ensure you get the right size. Use a measuring tape to measure the length and width of your foot from the heel to the tip of your longest toe. Once you have your measurements, use an online shoe sizing chart to determine the correct size of insole for your feet.
  • Choose the right insoles: Look for best insoles that are designed to provide extra cushioning and support, and that are appropriate for the type of shoe you want to make smaller. There are different types of insoles available for different foot shapes and sizes, so make sure you select the right ones for your needs. Here’s our pick for the best insoles for shoes that are too big, rating 9/10. 
  • Place the insoles in the shoes: Once you have chosen the right insoles, place them inside the shoes. Insoles can be placed under the existing insole, on top of the existing insole, or in the toe box or heel area of the shoe.
  • Test the fit: Put the shoes on and walk around to test the fit. The insoles should provide additional cushioning and fill up any extra space in the shoes, making them feel smaller and more snug. If you need more support or cushioning, you can add additional insoles or padding as needed.
  • Trim the insoles: If the insoles are too long or wide for your shoes, you can trim them down to size using scissors or a knife. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to trim the insoles.

How to Make Shoes Smaller with Water

how to make shoes smaller

Do you have a pair of shoes that are a bit too big? Well, you can temporarily make your shoes smaller with water to get a better fit! Shoe experts from DC.One mentioned that this method works best for your canvas sneakers! As a professional shoe expert, let me compile the method in simple steps below so you can try it right away!

  1. Fill a container with warm water.
  2. Submerge the shoe in the container and let it soak for 30 minutes.
  3. Take the shoe out and stuff it with newspaper. This will help it keep its shape as it dries.
  4. Put the shoe on and wear it around the house for about an hour. It will help it stretch and form to the shape of your foot.
  5. Take the shoe off and let it air dry.
  6. Once the shoe is dry, put it on again and see if it fits better.

How to Shrink Shoes to Make Them Smaller

how to make shoes smallerhow to make shoes smaller

If you need another shoe shrinking idea that requires less water for your leather shoes, then you come to the right place! Based on my professional experience, shrinking leather shoes can be a risky process and may not always be successful. Keep in mind if you do successfully shrink your shoes, it may damage your shoe material. However, if you would like to try shrinking your leather shoes, here are some steps you can follow:

  1. Start by wetting the shoes. Use a spray bottle filled with cold water to spritz the shoes. Make sure they are completely saturated, but not dripping.
  2. Place the shoes in the dryer. Put them on the no-heat setting and let them tumble for about 10 minutes. This will help to shrink the leather.
  3. Remove the shoes from the dryer and stuff them with newspaper. This will help to expand the leather, making it easier to shrink. Make sure the newspaper is stuffed all the way to the toes.
  4. Place the shoes back in the dryer. Turn the heat up to the highest setting and let them tumble for about 10 minutes. This process will help to shrink the leather even more. 
  5. Remove the shoes from the dryer and stuff them with cotton balls. It will expand the leather and make it easier

Preventative Measures: How to Avoid Buying Shoes That Don’t Fit

how to make shoes smaller

Shopping for shoes can be a fun, yet frustrating experience. You find the perfect shoe, only to find out it doesn’t fit and you end up walking away empty-handed. To avoid this, it’s important to know how to buy shoes that fit correctly. Here are some shoe shopping tips on how to avoid too big or too small ones:

  • Measure your feet: Get your feet measured by a professional to determine your correct shoe size. Your feet can change over time, so it’s important to measure them each time you buy new shoes.
  • Try on shoes in the afternoon: Your feet can swell throughout the day, so it’s best to try on shoes in the afternoon when your feet are at their largest.
  • Walk around in the shoes: Take a few steps in the shoes to make sure they’re comfortable and don’t slip off your heels or pinch your toes.
  • Check the fit: Make sure there’s enough room in the toe box for your toes to move around and that the heel doesn’t slip out when you walk. Shoe experts from Mamamia suggest that your shoes should also feel snug, but not too tight.

Measuring Your Feet for the Right Shoe Size

Measuring your feet is an important step in finding the right shoe size.  The wrong size shoe can cause blisters, pain, and even long-term foot problems. To make sure you get the perfect fit every time, we highly suggest you measure your feet before you buy. Here’s how you can measure your feet:

  1. Find a blank sheet of paper and a pen or pencil.
  2. Place the paper on a hard, flat surface like a tiled floor.
  3. Measuring foot length: Stand flat-footed with your heel against a wall. You can use a ruler or tape measure on the floor to measure from the back of your heel to the tip of your longest toe.
  4. Measuring foot width: Measure the flat width across the ball of your foot (the widest point) by stepping on the ruler or tape measure.
  5. Record the measurement in inches or centimeters.
  6. Compare your measurements to the shoe size conversion chart for the shoe you’re looking to buy. Make sure to check both the length and width measurements to ensure the best fit.
  7. If your measurements fall between two sizes, go with the larger size.

Understanding Different Shoe Widths

Shoe widths are measured on the scale of A-E, with A being the narrowest and E being the widest. Shoes that are both narrow and wide are also separated into sub-sizes, where the additional letter designates an even narrower or larger width: AAA, AA, A, B, C, D, E, EE, and EEE.  The average width for women is B, while men’s shoes typically come in a D width. However, not everyone has an average foot width, and some may require a narrower or wider shoe size.

Common Fit Issues and How to Address Them

Having the wrong fit of shoe can lead to a host of problems, from causing blisters, bunions, and corns to increasing the risk of injury. It’s important to make sure you have the right fit and to address any common fit issues when they arise. Here’s a look at some of the more common shoe fit issues and how to address them based on my experience and expertise.

No.IssuesHow To AddressRating
1.Heel SlippageTry using an over-the-counter heel grip.Wear a piece of fabric, foam, or gel that fits inside the shoe and provides additional grip and stability.8/10 (Recommended)
2.Toes SqueezingExperts from FootCareMD suggest making sure to measure your foot. Try on shoes that are a size larger.If the larger size is too loose, try using a toe cushion or toe separator9/10 (Highly recommended)
3. Rubbing and blistersTry using blister pads or bandages to protect the affected areas.Try adjusting the lacing or straps of your shoes to create a more secure fit.9/10 (Highly recommended)
4.Foot painConsider trying a different size or style of shoe that better fits your feet.Use insoles or inserts to adjust the fit of the shoe.8/10 (Recommended)

Shoe Care Tips to Maintain the Perfect Fit

Shoe care is essential to ensure your shoes last longer and maintain their perfect fit. Properly caring for your shoes can also help prevent odors, scuffs, and dirt buildup. Here are some tips to help you keep your shoes in great condition:

  • Clean Regularly: Cleaning your shoes regularly can help keep them looking their best. Use a soft brush or damp cloth to wipe away dirt and dust from the surface. For leather shoes, use a special leather cleaner to remove any stains.
  • Protect the Soles: The sole of your shoes really take a beating when you’re on your feet all day. To keep them in good condition, invest in a pair of rubber soles and reapply them every few months. This will help protect your shoes from wear and tear.
  • Use Shoe Trees: Shoe trees are an excellent investment for maintaining the shape and fit of your shoes. They help to prevent creases and wrinkles from forming in the leather, and they also help to absorb moisture.
  • Store Your Shoes Properly: Experts from Feetfristclinic recommend storing your shoes in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Avoid stacking your shoes on top of each other, as this can cause them to lose their shape.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it better to buy bigger or smaller shoes?

It is better to buy shoes that are slightly larger than your foot size. Shoes that are too small can cause pain, discomfort, and blisters, while shoes that are slightly larger will provide more room for your feet to move and can help reduce abrasion. Choose the larger size if one foot is somewhat bigger than the other, and always think about the type of socks you’ll be wearing with your shoes.

What are shoe inserts to make shoes smaller?

We recommend shoe inserts for narrowing shoes that may include heel lifts and arch supports. Heel lifts can be used to decrease the shoe size by raising the heel higher off the ground, while arch supports can be used to add more cushioning and support to the foot, which can help make the shoe fit more snugly. 

What are toe inserts for shoes that are too big?

Toe inserts for shoes that are too big are pieces of foam, gel, or fabric that are inserted into the toe area of the shoe to reduce the amount of space in the toe box. This helps to prevent the foot from sliding forward and rubbing against the front of the shoe, which can cause blisters and discomfort. For maximum comfort, pair these full insoles or toe cushions with your too-big shoe pair of inserts.

How to make shoes smaller without insoles?

When it comes to shortening shoes without insoles, you can opt for a shoe repair or shoe stretching service. This is a good option if you have shoes that are just a bit too big and you don’t want to invest in insoles. You can also try using a blow dryer to heat the areas of the shoe you want to make smaller, then using a shoe stretch spray to help the shoe conform to your feet. This method can be effective but can also cause damage to the shoe if not done properly.

How to make shoes tighter in the heel?

Wearing thicker socks can help to cushion the heel and provide a tighter fit. Or, you can try a half-size smaller shoe. If your heel feels too loose, try a half size smaller shoe. Moreover, heel grips can be inserted into the heel of the shoe to provide extra cushioning and stability.

Does 0.5 shoe size make a difference?

Yes, a 0.5 shoe size difference can make a difference. This is because shoe sizes are relative to one another, and even if the difference is small, it can still make a difference in the fit of the shoe. A 0.5 size difference is enough to make a difference in the width and length of the shoe, as well as the overall comfort.

Is it OK to wear shoes 1 size too big?

It is not recommended to wear shoes one size too big because it can lead to blisters, calluses, and other foot injuries. Shoes that are too big can cause your foot to slide around and create friction, which can lead to painful rubbing and irritation. Additionally, wearing shoes that are too large can cause instability and make you more prone to trips and falls.

Summary or Conclusion

In general, it is not recommended to try to make shoes smaller. It is always best to purchase shoes that fit properly from the start. However, if you find yourself with shoes that are too big, there are some methods you can try to make them fit better. However, it’s important to be cautious and patient when attempting to make shoes smaller, and to avoid causing any damage to the shoes. Remember to always wear the appropriate socks or insoles, and to consider seeking professional shoe alterations help from a cobbler or shoe specialist if needed.